[b]Muti ‘protected’ miners[/b]
Sangoma’s hilltop ritual made protesters fearless in the face of police gunfire
[size=9pt]Sibongakonke Shoba and Isaac Mahlangu
A Mystery sangoma is believed to be behind the foolish courage displayed by striking miners during Thursday’s deadly standoff.
Undeterred by water cannons and tear gas, the miners crept through the bushes towards the police and charged straight into a heavy line of fire.
The surviving miners are not talking, but union officials, residents of Marikana and the police confirmed the presence of the unidentified sangoma, who carried out rituals on the hill and dished out muti where workers had gathered throughout the week.
It is said the man, who is from the Eastern Cape, had provided muti to the protesters and made them believe it would make them invincible.
Senzeni Zokwana, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, said the strikers had to fork out R500 before being sprinkled with ntelezi.
Amcu national organiser Dumisani Nkalitshana denied that their members used muti. “We haven’t heard any of our members telling us about that. We don’t know anything about muti. We are Christians, and we believe in God,” said Nkalitshana.</blockquote>
It feels like the '80s. You run around with sharpened pangas and nothing is going to happen? Muti or God is going to protect you? An oversupply of unskilled workers will keep the salaries down. You want to earn more, you qualify yourself for a better paying job.
And of course the sangoma uses the snake oil peddler’s much-loved escape clause: If you used the muti and you didn’t get hurt or killed, then the muti worked, while those who were injured or killed despite using the muti must have done something wrong. (Hmm, yes, they believed a bloke in animal skins behaving strangely when he told them that he had the power to deflect bullets — at R500.00 a pop. Some morbid wordplay on “making a killing” suggests itself here.)
So much for a “harmless” superstition.
Dumisani Nkalitshana’s words about muti vs. god-fearing Christians contain more than enough irony to start a horseshoe factory.
In case you want to hear discussion - or call in - on the place of sangomas in modern society, I’ve agreed to be a guest on Cape Talk/702 tonight, on this topic, from after the 10pm news. I doubt any of you will disagree with what I’d say, but nevertheless. 567 AM in Cape Town, 702 AM in Jhb, or capetalk.co.za for streaming audio.
So much for a “harmless” superstition.
I think african traditions have killed enough people in the last decade or so (bogus AIDS cures continent wide) that we can safely say this shit is far beyond harmless.
The reluctance of participants to talk about this suggests tremendous peer pressure and fear. This was no opportunity for a Skeptics on the Koppie meeting.
You know, you can kinda see why the whole “God is on our side” angle can help those in power motivate their troops to go into battle.
I mean just tell some dudes they have muti on their side and they turn homicidal without reservation…
Jacques, there is a point I would like to hear addressed should an opportunity present itself. It is frequently said in such discussions that the mystical/magical/supernatural is not amenable to scientific scrutiny. This argument is a weak one because it simultaneously assumes too much about the mystical/magical/supernatural without any sound foundations for those assumptions, and too little about the capabilities and methods at science’s disposal. Moreover, the reality of a mystical/magical/supernatural realm has yet to be satisfactorily established, and claims about it are at present more plausibly explained as artefacts of the way the human brain works.
So the whole massacre was a kind of multiple Darwin Award…
Oh, the contention by Holomisa about how Western influences had corrupted and diluted traditional healing values and practices, thereby diminishing their efficacy, was priceless. The sad reality, though, is that there are probably many who buy into this defence.
A good interview, Jacques. We especially like the way you defused the accusations of (cultural) arrogance.
Thanks. Man, there are some nutty people out there.
Jeez you can say that again. I was sitting there getting more and more depressed as the interview went on.
I can understand that the host is trying not to fan a fire but talk about being overly accommodating. At times he seemed to want to press the issue, and at times: yeah man, that’s like, your opinion man, I can dig.
I marvelled at Holomisa’s angle though… I wonder if he’s ever contemplated why the average lifespan of western countries tends to be higher than that of African ones.
But what really grinds my noodle is how “Christianity” was conflated with “Western Science”. I so wish someone (ahem) would have had a chance to point out that Christianity has in the past, and still today rails against the exploits of science in exactly the same way as the traditional healers do.
The whole “it’s a secret so it can’t be clinically tested” argument is also a line of BS, but then we know that.
And once again the “where’s the harm”. The one caller related how some (didn’t quite get the description) thing he bought which he “smokes” his baby with calms the baby down. Sure, I find nicotine, weed, and alcohol calm me down. Clinically tested drugs don’t just come with a assurance of efficacy, they also come with an assurance of minimal or no harm, and warnings for people with certain conditions/infants/pregnant moms/etc… Does that caller have ANY idea what is going into his baby’s lungs? Is it dangerous? Is it innocuous? Who knows?
Well done, Jacques.
Political correctness has donned a cloak of untouchability and reason must bow to ideology. The deaths and harm caused by clinging to traditional medicines in lieu of clinically tested alternatives is trumped by the egos of leaders. For this reason Thabo Mbeki is directly responsible for the deaths of 330 000+ AIDS victims. Take a stand against such atrocities, and you are flayed for being arrogant and unafrican.
this struck me as beyond comprehension…
“I still honestly believe that if it wasn’t for the healer far more lives would have been lost on the day. If we had let the rabbit free all of the dead would still be alive,” Khabo said. (and some of the police would be dead? They were attacking them!)
Khabo is a fucking idiot but typical of this mindset… If reports are correct, they received their “courage” from the muti man, and assurance that they’ll be “invulnerable” yet with 34 people dead and 70 injured, the muti man still gets the credit for saving lives.
The stupid. It burns.
In The Hollow Man, the ubiquitous Kevin Bacon found both his morality and common sense deteriorating after becoming an optical non-conformist. The theme is a bit similar to Golding’s Lord of the Flies: Do people act pathologically when they can get away with it?
But then again, Bacon was really invisible.
Actually, in this case it kills.
A conservative Christian minister has blamed feminists, homosexuals and abortion for last week's Marikana tragedy.That's to prove that some Christians will not be outdone by sangomas when it comes to imbecility.
.. another [twitter user] blamed Naidoo for making "Christians seem like lunatics".
At least he gets one thing right.
I think it takes a deep-seated misanthropy, perhaps even a loathing of humanity, to see the world in such black-and-white moral terms. If so, I feel sorry for Naidoo. His vitriol stems from internal turmoil and conflicts that must otherwise be quite enervating.
BTW, LOL at Jacques’ comment.
Things could never be complete without some opportunistic and meddlesome evangelist, er…, chipping in. Buying and selling false hope is still as popular as ever.